What's It Going To Take...?

General Radio News and Comments, Satellite & Internet Radio and LPFM

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:08 pm

Jock Satisfaction And Jock Education
Regular readers will have had no need to strap in and buckle up, certainly not in order to appreciate the following conclusions of a recent American study conducted by Jacobs Media and Don Anthony’s Morning Show Boot Camp on the satisfaction levels of on-air performers. One thousand and thirty-five on-air hosts participated.

The first element to be revealed was that only 19% of the respondents agreed that their management was supportive of their efforts. No surprise there as we have always been told that Programming and Creative were considered as “expenses – part of the, perhaps, not so necessary overhead. Verily, as we know, that is the position that did, indeed, come to pass. And now, the sales departments, the ones who claim to be those that actually “make money for their stations”, are, nevertheless, screwed – with little of any real value to take to the street. Audiences and advertisers are being left in the lurch while copy is being written by AE’s on dinner napkins.

No surprise, either, that 89% of the presenters were white guys – ragin’ Caucasians. Indeed, we can forget about any corporate bleatings about diversification and gender-fairness. How many women, I also wonder, are still relegated to the positions of “sidekick giggle-chicks” or V/T charwomen?

To me, meanwhile, the most telling takeaway from the report is that only 3 out of 10 on-air hosts would recommend radio as a viable career choice. My suspicion is that, of those three, two of them would be operating as toadies - people who have a severely uninformed understanding of the Draconian limitations under which almost all presenters are toiling.

Maybe my own limitations at the time were a factor. Maybe the fact that I was having such a blast performing on the air – as we said, “talking dirty an’ playin’ the Hits” had an influence. Maybe because I was enjoying ratings success, the respect of my peers and that I was pulling down good coin was a factor. Still, it took me awhile longer to realize I had become better educated about on-air communications than almost all of the managers and owners for whom I was slaving over a hot microphone. Discussions, debates, arguments and intense “agreements to disagree” ensued. These head-on clashes, I readily admit, were never accepted as learning experiences.

But that was then. Modern radio environments have little to do with the times when radio stood on its own as a viable informational, entertainment and advertising medium. After all, competing media consisted of print and television. Ours was the only real time experience available to any audience.

Many pundits, meanwhile, have been calling out for a return to radio stations that are fully staffed with live & local on-air presenters that are encouraged to engage their audiences more often and with the microphone open for longer periods.

At first blush, the knee-jerk reaction from a lot of readers would likely be along the lines of, “Yeah! That would be fantastic! Live & local and lots of it! Hit some posts along the way! That’s the way to go! Woo-Hoo!

Unfortunately, and I hope this is understood: This is absolutely the wrong way to go! The verbal belching and gibberish spilling out of unsuspecting audiences’ radios would be nonsensical and would quickly become overwhelming. The lack of skilled talent being dumped on the air would be embarrassing to any station owner. Plus, the programmers tasked with herding such an excited but incompetent herd of aural aficianados would be driven to careers in the fast-food delivery industry, and be forced to justify the new employment as: meaningful work. Further, advertisers would catch on and start making candid and brutal inquiries – never a happy circumstance.

While I have been putting the boots to this prone pony for decades – with less than outstanding acceptance or execution on the part of owners and management, I continue to insist that: Until or unless performers are trained in the basics, along with the subtleties and nuances of more effective broadcast communications, stations and their talent base will continue to participate in an obviously ineffective and unenviable status quo.
As was the case in days of olde, a few talented on-air presenters will be having worthwhile, even exemplary influence in their marketplaces. This, however, hardly bodes well for the rank & file presenters, or the industry in general. And it is the upcoming rank & file that will be in desperate need of the necessary training in order to be more effective communicators.

This education would also help prevent them from inevitably stepping in to piles of self-generated, on-air doo-doo, and from having to fall on grenades, the pins of which they would have pulled all by themselves. Turning a bunch of uneducated, well-intentioned presenters loose to roam the radio landscape is akin to denying climate change. The evidence is everywhere, is being demonstrated at all times, is generating significantly negative consequences. This, as well, is not Fake News.

Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:34 pm

What It IS Going To Take
Having spent my entire (alleged) adult life starting as an eager, starry-eyed but still drooling, 15 year-old upstart leaping into the radio business, I do suffer from a certain lack of perspective. I forget that the majority of radio’s current participants haven’t been in the business long enough to appreciate the distinctions of then and now. It has been awhile, after all, since jocks have been hitting posts and taking numerous performance risks.

It needs to be understood: I am not promoting the industry should be jumping aboard Mr. Peabody’s “Wayback Machine” and pick up where we started getting kicked out - sometime in the ‘80’s - to relive those star-studded days of radio lore. We can’t do that because the talent base no longer exists. The same applies to the copywriters that have gone on to (possibly) more meaningful endeavours in other environments.

But, if radio is to make any great leaps forward, a number of those older elements will have to be reactivated – in different, more sophisticated forms. Doing so en masse and arbitrarily would, however, produce a colossal audio disaster of the first order. Still, having many more “live” presenters on the air more often and for longer periods is a necessary part of the strategy. This can’t be implemented in any great rush. Not yet. But that is, certainly, the eventual destination.

That radio has paid absolutely no attention to considering or challenging the communication strategies it has been employing since christ was a corporal is not in dispute. The same-o’-same o’ and less of it has been accepted without question. This has been the practice, even though many different communications strategies and methodologies have been available for well over 35 years. This material was and is being applied in many other fields, including some electronic media, particularly in the generation of electronic advertising.

Sneaky and very successful, high-falutin’, whiz-bang advertising agencies have been planting landmines at the surface of our conscious experiences and, more importantly, in the recesses of our subconscious craniums by, among other techniques, applying the very technologies to which I have been referring for over three decades. I still chuckle knowingly and offer a tip of the hat when I recognize this or that technique in some spot or other.. We (audience members) don’t have a prayer when these guys are screwing with our minds. And please understand: Screwing with our minds is what they are supposed to be doing! It’s what they are being paid to do. It's the Job Description! The invoices are substantial.

Radio, on the other hand, is still hammering away trying to convince listeners of the value of this or that deal by applying the weakest forms of logic and then, demanding that we behave in specified ways.
(“Hurry down! Do it today! These deals will never be repeated! Plenty o’ free parking!”) Is it any wonder that audiences are punching out of the stations while recoiling and projectile vomiting on their dashboards? No, it’s no wonder at all.

There is no way around it. Making the necessary corrections, adjustments or full-scale overhauls of radio’s communications approaches is necessary. As tasks go, it’s also a biggie. The learning curve is not all that long, but it is high. Ignoring the current situation for over 3 decades has generated serious consequences. What were once crops of annoying weeds have become sturdy, toxic forests. So far as this circumstance is concerned, the status quo has become an intolerable shambles.

“Talent”, I acknowledge, is wherever it turns up. Whether these rare individuals are encouraged or even allowed to perform to the level of their potentials are more, separate factors. Whole on-air and creative staffs are in need of complete and comprehensive re-training. Anything less is called “dabbling”.

There are still professional programmers and consultants who are brought in to attempt some herding of undisciplined on-air cats, and the adjusting of some content elements. This, I suggest, is more akin to rearranging deck chairs; lasts about as long as it takes for the consultant to hail a cab back to the airport, but still leaves ownership and management viable excuses for not being able to make the corrections for themselves – and to make them stick.

There is no doubt that for any of this to happen, a radio organization is going to have to do some homework, apply some imagination, muster up the courage and gird its loins for the severe struggle that is guaranteed to follow any decision to engage in a process of full-blown improvement. Almost all the others will ignore the warnings and decline the opportunity – again. The consequences of those failures are known, and they are significant. And one other thing: Peabody's pet boy “Sherman”, won’t be of much help, either.

I invite any reader comments be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:53 am

From The Top – One More Time
As the practices of radio communications, with particular attention being paid to on-air presentations and the generation of advertising copy, have been devolving through the decades, I am even more convinced that these issues need to be addressed. In my own case – re-addressed.

After over 10 years of personal experimentation (and practice that continues to today), I started presenting the methods and strategies for developing superior radio communicators around 1993 when publisher, Walt Grealis, was kind and supportive in presenting my series, “Letters To Steve”, in the pages of RPM magazine.

My deluded fantasies included that radio’s management would read the pieces, appreciate the incredible opportunity to prosper significantly by applying the materials and immediately exclaim, “This stuff is absolutely for us! Waiter! Fresh round of cash dollars for Ronald T.! Let’s get to work!” None of that happened then, none of that has happened since, and none of that is happening now.

Meanwhile, after a five-year run of writing weekly blogs for Radio Ink Magazine, an American trade publication, I got the call that anyone who has seen a baseball movie will appreciate. A message is passed along to one of the team’s wily veterans. “Skipper wants to see you, Zeke.” The ballplayer wanders into the manager’s office and is invited to sit down, “The organization has decided to go in a few other directions’, intones the bench boss, “ and I’m sorry to tell you we have to let you go. Here’s your release and thanks for all you have done for the team. Your last cheque is in the mail.”

I’m surprised I was tolerated for so long as I have never been a fan of what ownership and management have been doing to the industry. But, yes, I am actually grateful to have participated.

With RadioWest.ca, however, it has been over a nine-year run. Litres of virtual ink have been spread out over these pages. Since I haven’t heard from Ted (radiofan) to the contrary, I believe I shall carry on. Further, with pugetsoundradio.com having banned my commentaries a couple of times, including very recently, I am eager to concentrate on RadioWest.ca.

As it was at the beginning of this journey, and as it continues today, my main premise is: Radio is in a desperate need to reconsider and re-address the standard and accepted strategies and methodologies of communicating more effectively through this electronic medium.

With that in mind, I am intending to begin the educative process – from the top and all over again. Basic premises will be considered off the top, with subtleties and nuances either woven in or to follow on.

Those who are relatively new readers to this blog and those who have been dropping in from time to time over the years will, without doubt, continue to be challenged in the many aspects of broadcast communications as they are criticised and for which alternatives will be presented. I urge thorough considerations of these matters even so.

I do, however, assure interested parties that all of the premises, strategies and methodologies that will be provided here have been personally tested on the air for decades for years, have been applied in other electronic communications fields and in industries that are not related to broadcast. The results, although necessarily anecdotal, have been spectacular.

Success comes only from the doing. And so, we shall do that déjà vu-thingy. So, yes, it may dawn on some that we have done all this before.

Also, please appreciate that I make no claims to having developed the greatest majority of the material. The material has been gleaned from other researchers and practitioners who have been applying them in other fields of endeavour – all of them, though, with relevance to radio. My particular advantage lies in that I have tested the material in actual on-air environments and in the writing of radio ads. What I have done, is collated the materials for the use in broadcasting and for the benefit of presenters and radio writers.

To be sure, radio myths and accepted dogma will be challenged, trashed and crashed – and it has never been a comfortable experience – for anybody. For some, it may actually be a somewhat painful experience. After all, nobody gleefully invites someone to destroy any of his or her realities. Not without consequences. Taking the tacks out of our Dr. Scholls insoles and allowing the healing to take place, means we will be better able to talk on the radio, walk, run and jump around in our boots. It’ll be a great relief.

I am inviting any reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:49 am

The Toxic Lie of “One-To-One” Part I

The following is the first in a series that harshly and completely discredits the practice of applying Second Person Singular (YOU) as an engaging and, most importantly, a device for connecting a speaker on the radio and a listener in the audience.

Even before the Roman Empire started crumbling, newbies to the radio industry were injected with a number of what were already dogmatic edicts. The breaking of these “self evident” rules would always result in severe consequences – Caesar style.

Primary among these admonishments was the following: “As it is written, know that radio is a one-to-one medium.” References to one of the lost Old Testament books were being made. From the (still unaccepted) Book of DJ Dougie: “Verily shalt thou spread the word to the masses - one person at a time – whence dost thou cracketh thine microphone. Shalt thou do so by identifying thine listener as ‘You’.” (I’m not kiddin’ around here. I looked it up.)

And such is still the case. Every newcomer to radio is injected with the one-to-one poison dart. And it takes effect – instantly. Parrot-talk ensues. “Yup, yup. One-to-one. That’s what it is, alright. One-to-one. ‘You’ is the glue. Got it. Believin’ it. Doin’ it. Livin’ it. Passin’ it on.”

As I was the newest of the new guys at my radio station, my soon-to-be PD took me aside and told me what he had also been told. “I want you to pretend,” he began, “that when you are on the air, you are speaking to your very best friend and that he/she is listening to you as if you are also his/her best friend. Direct your comments directly to him or her by consistently applying the word ‘You’. This individual will be your “personal listener”, and this will be your one-to-one connection.

I accepted this information like I was receiving gilded words of wisdom presented by a wise and knowing old sage. Little did I know that the application of these edicts would cripple a large part of my communicative efforts for over a decade, just like it continues to do currently to other contemporary presenters. Applying those very principles put stones in my shoes and sand in my eyes – even before I hit the air. I was completely unaware.

To be sure, the assurances to a new radio-person that the audience is made up of a single individual (“YOU”) that just happens to be a sympathetic and accepting listener while literally and abjectly inaccurate, is, indeed, calming. But after less than a week when any fear of an open microphone has been overcome, the premise becomes unnecessary and, in practice, begins to work against the on-air performer.

For consideration:
• At any given time, is there more than one listener tuned?
• Are any of those listeners connected by a real-time, ongoing feedback loop with the speaker?
• Is the speaker experiencing a verifiable, real-time, ongoing communications connection to anyone in the audience?
• Can any listener verify or demonstrate that the “you” in the speaker’s comments is that particular listener?

For further consideration:
• When a listener – any listener – hears the word “you”, do they accept, consciously or unconsciously, that the “you” they just heard is actually him, or her - exclusively? One can speculate that they just might. But, it would be the briefest of transient experiences. Whatever comments the presenter might produce after that will quickly eliminate what, up to that point, might have been a congruent and accepted, subjective reality.

• Very few listeners, I submit, welcome or enjoy being tricked, insulted or humiliated by some unknown. radio speaker. Of course, they will hardly ever articulate their disdain for being so abused, but, again I submit, there is an unconscious recoil at being treated so. The statement that includes the “you” is sorted out through an immediate unconscious process called Transderivational Search. The result is a rejection of the speaker’s comment being of no relevance – and another annoying element is added to the mix. Over multiple occasions and through time, the situation is hardly conducive to the speaker developing or maintaining more credibility in the mind of a listener.

Psychological and neurological explanations for these phenomena are available, and they would entail book chapters to do them justice. As such, these assertions can only be considered by readers of this forum as those from an educated, practiced and experienced radio practitioner.

Further, and I have heard them all, here is the number one justification that supporters of the one-to-one premise offer. Essentially, it is this:
Because radio listeners are hearing the messages one persona at a time, the one-to-one premise is demonstrated. The explanation fails by distorting logic.
• First of all, there is nothing in human experience that is not a single, subjective experience.
• The assumption that a one-to-one contact is being demonstrated is not true, and is completely illogical.
• No connection has been made, and there is no feedback loop on which either the speaker or the listener can depend, or with which the speaker or the listener can participate.

I have had occasions where a listener has claimed along the lines of: “When I am listening to you, I feel like you are talking right to me.” The two things I take away from such a comment – as I am checking for the closest exit – is that, 1. The individual is sincere. 2. The individual is delusional.

Allow me to make this particularly ironic claim, as well: When someone has been listening to my work on the air, they are far less likely to be experiencing the massive generalizations, deletions and distortions from which they would normally be impacted when listening to another, untrained presenter.

Meanwhile, the cure from, and alternates to the “You” will be forthcoming.

I am inviting any reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
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Posts: 1589
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:15 am

The Toxic Lie of “One-To-One” Part II

My esteemed, hype typin’, former colleague buddy, Mike, had a terrific way of making a particular point. He would go almost nose-to-nose with an individual and with his index finger extended, commence to rhythmically stabbing the person’s shoulder. As he was poking away, he would say, “D’ya know what bugs me more than anything?” Huge yuks would follow.

That’s a pretty good analogy for the constant yammering of a radio presenter who is leaning all over his “You button” – irritating and, eventually, crashing the subjective realities of every listener.

Before denying and wrestling away from every broadcast communicator the traditional, comforting but still delusional blurting of the “you”, there are, indeed, a small number of exceptions, but the distinctions are significant.

• When a presenter is speaking directly to someone in-studio or on the phone, the “you” is instantly recognized by a listener as applying to that already-identified person. An audience member is overhearing a communication directed at somebody else.
• In a two-voice spot, the characters may interact with each other – applying the “you”. Fine.

The universally accepted premise held by the radio industry is that radio is a Direct Medium. Hence, the one-to-one presupposition still rules. Here, on the home planet, however, radio is an Indirect Medium where nobody knows who is talking to who. The jocks don’t know to whom they are talking, and the audience can be assured the jocks aren’t talking to them, individually and certainly not exclusively.

Further, it is likely the audience members aren’t personally acquainted with the jock directing his comments at… him or her? This radio dogma delivers only a mouldy, unbuttered phustercluck sandwich. At very best, then, radio can be described as: One-on-Unspecified, and fail in the attempt. Pre-recorded commercials and V/T’ing can’t even get close, again because the speaker might be a talent from out of town. So, that example instantly and completely fizzles out. The constant, on-air deluge of “you, you, you”, I submit has similarities with the well-know dripping of a Chinese water torture - at some point, the listeners begin weeping. Some just snap.

This revelation, on first blush anyway, may be difficult to fully appreciate. The alternatives to the absurdities of the “You” are extraordinarily numerous, easily and safely applied and are incredibly powerful when put into practice by a professional communicator.

Now, had I been given this information as a newbie, on-air guy, I would have accepted it instantly and begun applying it immediately. Had it been couched as containing elements of advanced linguistics – unavailable to mere mortal listeners – and consistent with how radio was accessed by those same listeners, I would have been even more impressed and enthusiastic.

So, here it is: To be more effective and acceptable to listeners, all a broadcast communicator need do is: Replace the Second Person “You” with any Third Person reference.

• First Person consists of “I”, “me”, “we”, “us” etc.

• Second Person has “You” singular or plural – understood by most people to be of the singular nature – until they realize the “you” they just heard doesn’t really apply to them.

• Third Person references everything and everybody else!

Based on my years of practicing this particular strategy – on air and in writing copy - I can point out that nobody ever recognized the distinctions I was making. So, nobody ever called me out. When discussing the concept with other broadcasters, however, all of them voiced the fear of loosing the personal connection!

No connections are being established. It wasn’t a rational or reasonable concern, but it certainly was perceived as real. Yet, they are still quick to defend a premise that doesn’t and can’t work - an untenable and, ultimately, destructive position. All of that is based on the presupposition that radio is a Direct Medium.

Before supplying a bevy of examples of third person use, it is important to mention that a very serious neurological process is engaged when third person elements are introduced into a presenter’s broadcast language.

A very brief explanation of the neurological process, as it applies to understanding the language a presenter provides is required. The mental process is known as a Transderivational Search. In an oversimplified manner, the phenomenon can be described as: The unconscious exercise that every listener is constantly experiencing in order to understand what they just heard, and how it may or may not apply or relate to themselves. The TDS process is what makes up the secret sauce for any broadcaster that is paying attention. The TDS process also allows for word magic to take effect.

I will be repeating this explanation along with providing multiple Third Person examples in the next piece.

Please note: I am inviting any reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
Advanced Member
Posts: 1589
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:38 am

Antidotes To The Toxic Lie – Third Person To The Rescue

In the attempt to establish an individual intimacy – a false intimacy and a falsely-assumed connection, as well – radio presenters and writers have been force-feeding the toxic “You” to every unknown and unspecified listener with ears to hear. This has been radio’s default, go-to position for over half a century.

Here is the repeat of the explanation that demonstrates not only the validity, but the greater benefits of using Third Person references:
• The neurological process, as it applies to understanding the language a presenter provides is required. The mental process is known as a Transderivational Search. In an oversimplified explanation, the phenomenon can be described as: The unconscious exercise that every listener is constantly experiencing in order to understand what they just heard, and how it may or may not apply or relate to themselves. The TDS process is what makes up the secret sauce for any broadcaster that is paying attention. The TDS process also allows for word magic to take effect.

Here, then, is the strategy for a presenter or a writer working with third person references in place of the second person “you”:

First, and while obvious, determine what it is the audience member(s) are to understand.

Next, replace the expected “you” with any third person reference – person, place or thing. Among so many of the human choices, that could be “a person”, “someone”, “an individual”, “anyone”, “a listener” etc.

Now, I do appreciate how such a method seems somewhat awkward and, certainly, in some way – counter intuitive. And so it would, particularly given the indoctrination under which we have been “taught” that radio is a one-to-one and direct medium.

It is only through the Transderivational Search phenomenon that each, individual listener will generate relative meaning to what is being presented through the third person.

I should point out that the TDS process applies to everybody at all times and is not just a broadcast anomaly. It is ongoing. It helps us to sort out which of the materials we hear either applies to us or is relevant to us – and to what degree.

For example: If I were to crack the microphone and say something seemingly harmless like, “Here’s a song I know you are going to enjoy”, the listener is immediately being inaccurately singled out, put to an uninvited relevancy test and will be undergoing a mind-reading challenge on the part of the presenter – a noxious practice to be avoided at all costs. All that for that?!

Explanation: Any listener who hears a third person reference will go through the TDS process of discerning if the comment relates to them, specifically, relates to someone else or has some relevance to them. If it does – fine. If it doesn’t – also fine. At least they haven’t been told that it does. (That’s the mind-reading element.)

It really is quite amazing how an on-air communicator can roam the linguistic landscape by applying the third person strategy while still being assured that a listener is unconsciously going through an understanding process, and in real time.

An outrageous example could be: Were I to go on the air (and I have) and say, “With a little practice, even a can of Dinty Moore Stew can go through a visualization of how to get back home.” The listener has no choice but to process that message as an internal visual experience of plotting the way home even as the Dinty Moore Stew reference is ridiculous. That’s the power of the TDS process. Then there is that simultaneous, distorted combination of both second and third person - the conflicting “We love you, Cleveland!” It does help that the audience hearing that innocuous call-out is often in an altered state anyway.

On-air presenters and writers are encouraged to play around with the unlimited possibilities that third person references allow. Opportunities are rife for a communicator to allude, suggest, imply and, otherwise, be artfully vague. Audience members will still be getting it. By applying this indirect strategy, the results, through time and over time, will develop more keenly interested and more easily accepting audiences. Very sneaky stuff, this. And it’s worth going through the learning and application process.

The benefits of avoiding bullying audience members with the big, bad “you”, while still getting them to appreciate, understand or relate to the spoken content, have, for me, been significant.

Many more elements of linguistic jiggery-pokery for the delight of on-air communicators and for the benefit of audiences are to follow.

Please note: I am inviting any reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
Advanced Member
Posts: 1589
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Oct 18, 2019 3:06 am

Once, We Were “Boss”, But We Are Never THE Boss.
Use of the third person rather than second person (“you”) by radio presenters, I submit, accomplishes a couple of important elements in being congruent to a listener: It avoids the challenge to the listener to accept the extraordinarily shoddy premise that they are the one to whom the speaker is addressing. It still allows for the listener to personally relate to the surrounding content in the sentence. If it is not consistent with their personal immediate experience – no harm and no foul. No such claim was made. In practice, these are powerful distinctions.

Meanwhile, from the mid-‘60’s to the early ‘70’s, many Top 40 radio stations fell all over each other to be “Boss Radio” presenting “Boss Jocks”. Essentially, these were Drake format stations that made a nice living generating “kiddie cumes”. Although the original format was accepted as being established by KHJ – with all their very strong personalities, many other stations went about crippling their talent with formatics and short bursts of on-air activity. CKLW (The Big 8) was another similar example - as was CHUM Toronto. The stations became examples of robo-radio. While “Boss” eventually lost its luster, the heavy, oppressive formatics continued.

Which brings a real-life question or two to ponder: Are radio presenters really the boss? Do they have any authority whatsoever? Listening to talent all over the country, a stranger from off-planet would find it easy to appreciate how the speakers are operating under the premise that they are, indeed, the boss. They get to tell their audiences what to do, specifically. They are doing it congruently, sincerely and consistently. Same-same for radio ad copy.

Not only are the presenters operating as if they were communicating to one person, they are making demands for behaviours from that fantasized individual, as well! Audiences are being told what to do as if the speaker actually had some kind of authority. Credibility, maybe. Authority – none.

The irony is delicious. Here is a group of (so-called) “communicators” who are going for some form of one-to-one intimacy while regularly telling this treasured, although completely unknown listener to do all kinds of unacceptable behaviours – as if the speaker was the boss. And they demand it – uninvited!

These demands are so ubiquitous and delivered with such off-the-cuff banality or, occasionally, some sincerity, hardly anybody in the audience is aware of what is actually going on. “Do it today!” “Buy now!” “Save big!” “Hurry down today!” “Call me now!” (The list is much longer.)

The justification has always been that these “calls to action” – an ad agency term - are not only harmless, but that they are necessary. This would be because audience members (potential customers) are such dullards, it is surmised, they can’t figure it out for themselves. Unconsciously, I suggest, listeners get a little cranky when being pummeled with these demands for behaviours emanating from a source (presenter/ad copy announcer) that has no authority whatsoever.

I have also heard it argued that: If these annoying demands were recognized on more of a conscious level, listeners would feel obliged to reach out through the speakers into the control rooms and choke the livin’ bejezus out of the speaker - as a subtle suggestion to: Stop doing that! Fortunately or unfortunately, such is not the case.

During my 27-year run as the radio and on camera TV-guy for Sportchek, I got to edit all the copy before it went into production. The base script was written back at head office and was loaded with demand for behaviours. My first task was to eliminate and replace all those demands in the script. Sportchek, meanwhile, did quite nicely – through four sets of owners. I might have been one of the last of the original cast left standing.

The strategy is quite simple. Instead of demanding or telling people to do this or do that, the alternates can be applied. They include: Allude to, suggest, imply or just let the audience figure it out all on their own.
So. “Save 40 percent” or “Get 40% off” becomes “Savings of forty percent!”
“Call me now!” became “I’m taking calls now.” These are easy adjustments to make – on air, in ad copy and in station promos. The benefits of applying this extremely subtle strategy, certainly in my long-term experience, are significant.

Astute readers will, by now, have noticed that the strategies and methodologies I am promoting are all quite subtle. What this means, besides providing more efficient communications, is that nobody will be calling out those who are putting the techniques into practice – not management, colleagues or members of the audience. This stuff is that sneaky. Plus, the impact is almost entirely at the unconscious level and rare it is that an individual can make conscious comments about all that sub-surface bippity-bobbity-boo. Just as well, too, that the mouldy, old status quo goes unchallenged.

Now, my momma didn’t raise a cute and dumb son, so I have no allusions that broadcasters will, en masse, be implementing the material provided in these last 3 pieces. Nor are the materials that will be following likely to cause either tremors or rifts in the mantle of radio dogma.

Even so, these materials are of even less value when kept as closely guarded secrets. I do, however, remind those interested parties that the presentation of the language is the only element that is open to adjustments by radio stations from corporate chains to local stand-alones. Everything else is other-supplied. That radio does not move nor make inquiries on these factors has been, to me, quite astounding. I am compelled to appreciate how a blind adherence to the aforementioned, horribly outmoded Radio Dogma will do that.

Please note: I am inviting any reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Oct 24, 2019 6:08 am

Making Sense Of Sensory Language

Postulated: It’s not that radio’s presenters and writers see themselves as lazy or disinterested. Far from it. They certainly are not expected to, nor are they being shamed into accepting any of that. The preliminary evidence, however, does suggest otherwise. But, in significant areas of the delicious and intriguing art and science – yes, science - of broadcast communications, they are, indeed, numb, with most being tragically uninformed. And by that, I only mean to say: yet to be educated.

I also feel that, given the opportunity to respond, most would likely insist that no further education, as it specifically applies to the job, is required. Plus, management has been crushing any introduction and application of further staff development for decades. As a result, similar to ignored kitty litter, the prognosis for improvement in on-air and copywriting activities stinks to high heaven.

Upon consideration, most people would agree and appreciate that humans interact with their environments – externally and internally – through their senses. On an ongoing basis, we are continuously engaging our senses of sight, hearing, feeling (kinesthetically and emotionally) along with our gustatory and olfactory (taste and smell) capacities. “Thinking” is the result of engaging some combination of those sensory elements.

The glaring irony, as it applies to radio’s presenters and writers, is that those capacities of the listeners are hardly engaged or exploited at all – practically, like, almost, like, never.

There are a few perfectly semi-justifiable reasons for this phenomenon:

• Performers and writers are, for the most part, unaware of these communicative elements, and those that might be somewhat cognizant place minimal credence on the premise that listeners actually do engage the very senses with which they may be presented in any broadcast. Practitioners, generally, neither listen for the distinctions nor do they appreciate the extraordinary influences that are inherent in the process.

• Adding sensory predicates takes some extra thought and time to deliver, both on-air and in commercial copy. And gawd knows - we can’t have that! Content is always king. It has always been the default position. Process cleans out the stables and is fed on a bowl of warm water with a small chunk of cabbage. Hearty dining, to be sure. Hard information has far more perceived value than those fluffy, non-essential, (so called) extraneous materials. At least, that is the position put on parade.

• While also glaringly obvious, it is a matter of little concern to those who ply the radio waters that audiences that are not provided with sensory elements will not be processing them. No froth-laced arguments are likely to ensue on this one, either.

If audiences are not engaged at sensory levels, they are far less likely to be using their imaginations to produce the internal, unconscious experiences that enhance any communicated intent. Audience imaginations will be left unchallenged and disengaged. Pure content is, comparatively, just a packet of dull, flat information.

A reminder here: Understanding language is always an unconscious process, first. If we had to process the language as a conscious exercise, we couldn’t get past “…a brown dog…” without losing track of everything else. This is the case whether we are hearing language, producing it ourselves or reading it.

Assuming readers appreciate the premise, it is still going to take, certainly at the beginning of a learning curve, some time, focused thought and constant practice to interject the sensory elements into on-air and copywriting speech elements. It will be a little tougher for the on-air gang as they will be working more in real time. Copywriters can kick predicates around some, while considering alternatives and before committing to the copy.

Even in my own experience, the sensory predicates did not and do not self-generate. They are not, generally, automatically intuitive. These sensory-based words do not drip from my lips or ooze out of my keyboard all by themselves. I still have to think about it, and then I usually have to do some more precise editing. During the playing of tunes or the airing of automated spot breaks, I was usually tinkering with what I was going to say next. This was a terrific practice, to be sure, but it was also necessary and an ongoing cranial strain. But, good gawd a’mighty, it was worth it!

My exceptional pal, the lovely and talented Mike the hype-typin’, copywriter extraordinaire, had a sensationally descriptive line for a dairy dessert product: “…dripping with goodness in each, rich, creamy mouthful.” Although a wonderful example of a sensory descriptive, management (and legal) still wouldn’t let him use it – not even in jest. Although a twisted and distorted application, I suggest it would work just as well when applied to a local area rug retailer. I can hear it now: “Ernie’s Carpets half price sale on area rugs – dripping with goodness in each rich, creamy mouthful.” (I really am not kidding about this. If we are careful and precise, we can take a listener’s imagination and – do anything!)

Meanwhile, if the point of including sensory-based language was only to provide more flowery or interesting verbiage for an audience that may be mostly disinterested anyway, a presenter might be excused for wondering, “What’s all the hub-bub, Bub?” Or, “So what?” Or, “Who cares?” Even, “Picky-picky.”

There is purpose for such sensory-based additions: Massage a listener’s imagination to experience more powerfully what the speaker intends to communicate. Doing so engages more of a listener’s unconscious capacity to understand - even more fully – what he/she is hearing. This happens by engaging the (aforementioned) voodoo-like mental process of the Transderivational Search.

Further, there are few broadcast experiences more deeply satisfying to a radio communicator than taking a listener’s mind down roads they would not otherwise have traveled. And if anyone wants to participate in being more persuasive, they are going to have to begin by seeing themselves as someone learning to be a lot more engaging than that to which they have become accustomed.

Besides, we are not “newsies”. We, members of the proud and stalwart on-air and copywriting brigades, are not obliged to stick only to the solid and unchallenged facts. We are there to spin warped, compelling and motivating yarns.

P.S. This piece (above) has been stuffed with sensory elements, a number of which will have skidded by without any conscious notice by many casual readers. Sneaky, or what?

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:14 am

Making Sense Of Sensory Language - Part II

Engaging a listener’s internal sensory capacities through the application of language enhances that listener’s ability to appreciate what is being communicated more fully and in more detail than a string of words that consist of only pure content. Further, providing sensory verbiage increases the generations of feelings in a listener.

While astute observers of radio already appreciate that it is the audience’s feelings that motivate the sale rather than just content, there are still some dug-in holdouts. It’s an ongoing argument, particularly with item/price advertisers, but the jury, on this one, has already deliberated, issued a harsh and unsatisfying verdict and wandered off home to their cherished loved ones.

When sensory elements are introduced into the language of radio presenters, listeners are forced into an internal mental process. I choose that word with purpose. They are, indeed, forced, or arbitrarily triggered to go through the Transderivational Search exercise, as this is not a choice function. Listeners are constantly, internalizing the words only in order to understand what is being said. When sensory modalities are also provided, listeners must process them, as well. The added benefit is that, by doing so, listeners are also being put in the position where, as a result of that processing they will also be generating feelings – again not a choice function.

Having audience members experience those feelings – assuming they are predetermined and are the ones the speaker or advertiser intends – audience members are being better massaged to accept and be motivated by the messaging.

Here is a copy example for a radio commercial about a dog shampoo:

• Anncr 1) Many dog owners would agree: Every dog deserves its day of a bath and a grooming. When my brown, longhaired terrier, Wally, is done with his romping and rooting in the rain and the mud, he comes back barking joyously, but as a tangled, ratty and soiled mess. It’s good that I already know the special ingredients in ‘Doug’s Doggie Wash’ will make Wally’s shampoo so much easier for me and comfortable for him. And because of the included conditioner, he even enjoys the comb-out. He smells great, too. Happy dog days.
(Anncr 2) ‘Doug’s Doggie Wash’ - available at fine stores everywhere.

While also a stellar piece of copywriting, the demonstration points out the addition of sensory elements – sights, sounds, aromas and feelings. Plus, and I am satisfied readers will agree: Anyone exposed to that spot has no choice but to pony up the unconscious effort to process those sensory elements.

I repeat:
When sensory modalities are engaged in a listener, that listener will also be developing corresponding, unconscious feelings. Again, this is not a choice-element. It is part of the natural experience. The quick reminder is that: Feelings drive behaviours. In our case, what that means is: Listeners will be responding to commercials that deliver greater emotional impacts.

It is also important to appreciate that, when interviewed, many advertisers and many potential consumers will insist that their buying decisions are based solely on the facts, ma’am. This is, of course, a nonsensical (so to speak) and irrational justification – as if having feelings was a less-than-desirable component of human behaviours, and not to be taken seriously by serious people.

Meanwhile, the intensity of the (primarily unconscious) feelings that listeners experience can be better discussed as a sliding (analogue) scale rather than as an on/off (digital) component. In other words: The more expertly we, as communicators, can guide listeners to experience those sensory modalities – the more intense will be the corresponding feelings.

Further, introducing sensory components to radio, on-air communication and commercial copy is an extraordinarily effective practice. It has been demonstrated to be a successful strategy. It is also just the basic premise. And, by the way, now is when this stuff gets weird - and turns pro.

When a person is experiencing internal sensory representations, they are dealing with individual “modalities”. Each personal, subjective experience also has distinctions of its own. These distinctions are called “sub-modalities”. Adjustments of the sub-modalities are the amphetamines and the nitrous oxide of producing behavioural changes. Indeed, the discovery and adjustment of sub-modalities delivers incredible, remarkable results.

The work I do when I am wearing my counsellor’s hat has as much to do with adjusting client sub-modalities as any other aspects of the work. Here, then, is a simplified example for the visual modality:

Readers can accept that we are making pictures in our minds on an ongoing basis. We need to acquire those internal visuals in order to know how to find our way home and to identify the colour of the car. We need those visuals in order to spell words correctly. I mean: Even “phonetics” can’t be spelled phonetically! So.

When interviewing an individual, I ask some pertinent and specific questions. (I am also inviting readers to participate in the following exercise.)
I would say, “Please consider a person whose company you enjoy.” To do that, an internal visual is required. Now, let’s identify the sub-modalities.
• “Where, in your personal space,” I would ask, “is this visual located?” After a moment of slight confusion, most people would identify the picture as being a couple of feet in front of them.
• “Is this picture,” I would continue, “bigger or smaller than real life?”
• “Is the picture in colour or more subdued?”
• “Is it a still or moving image?”
• “Are there any sounds that accompany this image?”
• “When you consider this image, and on a scale of 1-10, what is your level of satisfaction?” Most people will respond with a 6-7 level – an ecologically sound distinction that leaves room for those individuals that might produce a greater or lesser degree of satisfaction.

Another single distinction can be explained as: When I make a request for the person to take that mental image, make it half the size and move it away to about 10 feet in front of them, they will report a level of satisfaction that drops to between 3 and 5. (They are then invited to re-adjust the image back to its original size and location.)

So, what just happened there? Two sub-modality manipulations (size and distance) of a single (visual) modality generated an adjustment in the feelings of the individual. In more subtle ways, these distinctions can be provided to a radio audience, as well. (Now, is it not so? Did I give fair warning? This stuff does get weird.) More will follow in Part III.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:22 am

When Tenses Get Intense

If I fail at stressing how much of our subjective, internal, sensory sub-modalities impact our experiencing of the world, I am neglecting to fill in the gaps of practically every broadcast communicator’s education. Indeed, how we experience our internal world goes a very long way to determining our behaviours in the world. Such is the case for our listeners and for ourselves.

When I was being taught to do the work of a personal coach and counsellor, I was shocked by the fact that how we thought – that is to say, the ways in which we thought were that essential for adjusting our behaviours. The premise was introduced as: “Experience Has Structure”. Until then, I was one of those who accepted that thinking was…well, uh, thinking. And that was that. How uninformed I was.

One of my teachers made the tongue-in-cheek, but still profound remark that, “If you think it is, you think it is.” There was no room being made, it was being implied, for either accuracy, utility or, most importantly, adjustments.

When we are speaking on the radio as “live” or V/T’ed announcers or recorded, commercial performers, we are influencing listeners’ sub-modalities, but only to the degree that our communications can generate. Much of our messaging is extremely weak in developing those listener sub-modalities – at least not to the degrees that are useful, and certainly not to the degrees that are possible.

Factors other than content that are influencing listener sub-modalities include the speakers’ vocal tonalities, speed, emphasis, volumes, intensities, voice ranges (low, medium or high – relative to the speaker), pacing/pauses and, of course, sensory descriptions.

Meanwhile and to my amazement, I learned how even verb tenses impact on sub-modalities. A demonstration is in order, and I am also encouraging readers to take part in the exercise.

My request is that a reader -with their eyes closed - consider the following statement, by saying to themselves - as an internally-voiced communication: “Some time ago, I had an excellent vacation.”
The next part of the exercise is to notice the internal visual that is first generated. Please appreciate that to understand that statement, internal visuals must be generated. There is no other way to begin to understand the statement.

Now, with the same vacation scene in mind, the internally-voiced statement is: “Some time ago, I was having an excellent vacation.”
Again, the task is to notice the visual generated by that statement.

Although a blog is hardly the best vehicle for having people participate in the exercise, those who do can notice an interesting distinction.

In the first example, a person can notice that the image generated by the original sentence will be a still image, while the second sentence results in a moving image. In practice, changing the verb tense to present progressive, as the one that generates the second image, changes one of the elements of the sub-modality. Consistently, providing a present progressive or, for that matter, any progressive tense does generate moving images. It is the simple addition of the “ing” that makes the difference.

Adding a further motivating component to an on-air communication or a piece of advertising copy does indeed deliver subtle but powerful incentives to a listener. Not only that, but the abilities of broadcasters to deliver on these, the aforementioned and the still to come aspects of communication, particularly in the entertainment and advertising sectors, are, I submit, necessary skills to participate in radio’s higher professional ranks.

Effective communicators in all walks of life, even if they do so intuitively, are adjusting listeners’ sub-modalities and, in the process, generating feelings – ideally the feelings they want to have been generated.

At this juncture it might be prudent to re-introduce the three basic and necessary rules of effective radio communications.
1. Gain and hold a listener’s attention.
2. Produce and maintain a desired, pre-determined, if possible emotional response from the listener.
3. Introduce the content or, in the case of advertising copy, the product or service.
Content can be provided at any time, so long as the attention and emotional elements are delivered, as well. However, things move along more swimmingly when done in sequence. (That’s not always an option, and I appreciate that.)

To be sure, the communicative concepts I have been promulgating all these years have one main goal: To have the audience experience the feelings that the communicator has pre-determined, while avoiding those feelings that audience members will be accidentally experiencing as a result of shoddy, unknown and undisciplined messaging.

Granted, rising to the level of a superior radio communicator is no small feat. But through education and practiced application of the strategies and methodologies, a radio broadcaster can rise – and sparkle.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:58 am

Vocal Approach Considerations
I will have to trust that regular readers are on board with the concept of engaging listeners’ sensory modalities and adjusting listeners’ sub-modalities as the strategy for a performer/writer to gain greater credibility, listenability and effectiveness.

To establish a communications package for a radio performer or writer to generate optimum results, there is, however, the necessity to join the already-provided linguistic distinctions with another element: Vocal delivery.

For decades, radio has been ignoring the vast possibilities involved in performer and ad-announcer vocal deliveries – so much so that a small number of standard-issue deliveries have been accepted as, not only normal, but preferred.

Most of us grew up in the industry with one of the following vocal approaches:
• Loud, proud and fast. This was the favoured delivery of the rock jock – “talkin’ dirty an’ playin’ the hits.”
• Light, tight, bright and still fairly quick. This has been the go-to delivery of most of the performers and certainly most of the ad-readers for many years.
• Low and slow. While hardly a staple any longer, some performers are still applying the approach – almost exclusively.

The standard-issue deliveries have been pervasive over the decades, Senior on-air staff have been indoctrinated in these approaches when they first entered the business as new people to the industry are equally inculcated.

Modern presenters do not have the benefits of learned programming management as the management is literally uninformed on these matters. There are, however, the odd occasions where some presenters are told to “slow down”. This is only the case when the presenters sound like they are possibly on amphetamines, or suffering from a case of advanced rabies.

The elements of any vocal delivery can include: tonality, volume, speed, pauses and emphasis. More subtle combinations of those elements are also parts of the strategies. Adding these to the already provided linguistic information makes for far more powerful and effective communicators. These are all factors that have yet to be taken up by radio’s presenters and management.

At this point, I need to remind readers that the vocal deliveries have as much to do with adjusting listeners’ sensory modalities and sub-modalities as do the linguistic distinctions. These are the outcomes desired by but a very few professional communicators.

For example:
Take any presenter’s natural tonal range. When they are speaking low and slow (again through their natural vocal ranges), listeners are more likely to be accessing their own feelings. A medium tonality at a medium speed generates better listening and comprehension capacities in a listener. A higher and quicker presentation tends to get listeners to access their visual modalities. These are, so far, unknown components of on-air and ad-reading dynamics. A few writers do seem to have some intuitions about these matters.

I find it to be an astounding phenomenon that the only component over which radio has exclusive, internal control is the presentation of the spoken word. That nobody in radio management or of the on-air brigades have picked up on these concepts I find to be particularly astounding.

Further, it would be too much of a stretch to interview members of the listening audience with any expectations of their being able to report their subjective awareness or impact of any of these concepts. After all, the processing of language and vocal deliveries are all unconscious processes. That is to say, all these elements are accessed and processed by listeners outside of their awareness.

Bringing these materials to the awareness of radio’s leadership has been an equally arduous and frustrating exercise, but it is still a worthy endeavour. There was a time when I thought enlightened management would grab these materials, research them thoroughly and find the strategies to run with them.

Other linguistic and vocal-approach items will be forthcoming.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:21 pm

Subliminal Messaging: Hidden In Plain Sight

Before moving on to a couple of ever-so-subtle nuances of being a more efficient radio communicator, I will repeat some of the key elements that were provided not so long ago. When understood and applied, these are the factors that generate influence:

• Tonalities
• Differing speeds of delivery
• The use of relative vocal volumes
• The influence of adjectives
• The power of adverbs
• The sneaky effects of using different verb tenses
• The impact of exploiting sensory modalities and sub-modality descriptions
• That radio has no authority and is in no position to make any demands for behaviors
• That radio never has been, isn’t now, and never can be a “one-to-one” experience
• That inferences and subtle implications are more effective than direct instructions.

That speakers on the radio have no authority to tell any listener to do anything should be a self-evident concept to anyone paying attention. But we – the folks on the air and those typing the advertising hype - continue to do just that. Relentlessly.

My reference has always been in regard to direct demands for behaviours. Examples of that would be: “Hurry down.” “Call me now.” “Save 30 percent. ”Buy now.” “Don’t miss it.” and other items of equal, abusively crude claptrap.

Fortunately and hiding in plain sight, I might add, there are other methods of delivering such demands for behaviour – indirectly.

Here, then, is a typical ad copy example:
“Be there early and get the best deals.”
On the surface, that passes as standard issue hype with two demands for behaviour.
However, “Early shoppers will get the best deals.” becomes an implication for behaviour.
Now, to get really sneaky.
If the announcer reads that line and changes the tonality for “get the best deals” ever so slightly, that phrase becomes an implied demand for behaviour. The switch, although extremely subtle, all takes place because of a slight tonality change.

This strategy of drawing unconscious attention to a phrase or series of words is called “analogical marking”. This strategy is also the auditory equivalent of product marketing executives that are vying for shelf placement in grocery stores. They spend a ton o’ dough competing for valuable, visible and strategically advantageous shelf space while radio folk only need to change the structure and intonation of a few words and phrases.

Another example tuned for on-air presenters would be:

“Call me now at 555-1016 to win.”
An alternate to that line would be:
“Listeners can call me now at 555-1016 to win.”
In the latter example, by adjusting the tonality of the “call me now” portion, an imbedded, analogically marked demand for behaviour is generated.

Technically, we have entered the realm of subliminal communications. Practically, the (above) examples would qualify as the use of surface subliminals. This, as the material is hidden outside of awareness, yet, in plain sight. A discussion of more purer forms of subliminal, audio communication would not be of much value at this time as my interests are more about the overt linguistic components of what is delivered on the radio.

Meanwhile, readers can also appreciate that many more strategies for embedding messages are available for further influencing the experience of listeners. I am also aware of an ethical question that may come to mind, namely: Do we have the right to motivate listener behaviours by applying these techniques?

I suggest that by tuning in, listeners are aware they will be exposed to messages that are for the exact purpose of influencing their purchasing and other activities. Our responsibility is to the advertisers, and we are obliged to do the best work possible. Anything less becomes a dereliction on our part of our obligations.

The provided examples become of a subliminal nature only because all language is processed at the unconscious level of awareness. Radio communications are processed even more so at the unconscious level because of the brain hemisphere (primarily sub-dominant hemisphere) access of a radio broadcast by listeners. Failures to work with these unconscious levels are, I believe, representations of missed opportunities to raise the education and skills of all of radio’s presenters.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:45 am

Radio’s Refusal To Influence

Almost every time a radio ad hits the air, an opportunity to influence members of the audience is squandered. I mention this because of the standard-issue spots that have been clinging to the oldest, crudest and most unsophisticated approaches that have ever been foisted on broadcast audiences.

Those shoddy practices include:
• Addressing the audiences as if they were known individuals.
• Introducing the advertisers’ products or services off the top of the ad.
• Making some arbitrary but unsatisfying claims for benefits, and
• Providing demands for audience members to make the purchase.

At Radio Ink’s Forecast 2020, a well-known ad executive was promoting the following principles:

1. “Radio is an intimate medium; have a conversation, don’t shout.”
Radio is no more an intimate medium than is the reading of a tear-away ad on a laundromat’s bulletin board. Plus, there are no “conversations” being held on the radio, whether subdued or screamed, particularly when it comes to spots.

2. “Communicate benefits.”
This would assume the advertiser is offering any benefits of significance – relative to other advertisers.

3. “Brands need to be the ‘hero’ of the storyline and Brand mentions should be early in the ad with multiple mentions. The first five seconds matter.”

To the contrary, the listeners’ psyches need to be the heroes. Until that is established, any brand mentions become superfluous and innocuous. And, as often – extremely annoying.

These are not the admonitions that support any sophistication in the ads nor do they support the many desired responses from the listeners. These premises could have been written out in 1972, especially for a droning MOR station.

Meanwhile, the last half dozen or so of these articles have been a re-run of the fundamental premises that it will take to move the needle on radio’s communication practices. Indeed, they represent a primer on the basic strategies and methodologies that will be required to break radio out of the communicative morass in which it has been stuck for decades.

More on the Transderivational Search

The “Transderivational Search” is a 3-dollar term that describes the unconscious, mental activity that every person goes through in order to understand or derive meaning from whatever message it is to which they are being exposed.

More importantly, triggering a TDS can be used to generate a certain set of pre-determined and desired experiences in a listener. For example:

“Any driver can appreciate the satisfaction and confidence that comes from purchasing a certified used vehicle. They can be celebrating a smaller cash outlay, less expensive insurance payments and the ongoing enjoyment of an excellent, long-term ownership experience – all available now with a purchase from Honest Ollie’s Used Cars.”

Such a TDS experience is advantageous before the direct pitch is made. But, by golly, that message would do quite nicely as the direct pitch. All that would be further required are the assurances of guaranteed financing and the location.


“Any Mom can feel good about caring for her family, especially when she is serving an already-stuffed Butterball turkey directly from frozen to the oven. She can also appreciate the exceptional convenience of preparing a Butterball turkey.”

Every mom, and every other listener that is not a mom, because of the TDS phenomenon, will be required to go through the mental process of either providing or seeing someone else cooking the Butterball turkey, and feeling good about doing so before she/they can derive meaning and an appreciation of the sales message. To be sure, Mom’s and other listeners’ psyches are the heros of the piece – not the Brand.

This advantageous methodology certainly contradicts the suggesting that the Brand must be hammered numerous times in the first five seconds. That’s just goofy – and it’s still radio’s standard operating procedure. Plus, applying the SOP results in so many opportunities-to-influence being lost.

The point is: everybody applies the transderivational search process in order to understand what is being messaged. The degree to which those searches can generate the speaker’s/writers’ desired experiences (visuals/feelings) in the listeners goes a long way to influencing those listeners. Multiple brand mentions and benefit mentions are far less motivating than actually engaging the listeners’ imaginations.

These are examples where “process” supports “content”. It is not the other way around, particularly when content is treated as the more important element of the two – as it is constantly.

Missing, ignoring or refusing all of these opportunities to massage radio’s audiences are gross failures on our part. This, as we are the very people who are expected to and have been hired to: Provide influential messaging.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:55 am

Radio’s Neuro-Rocketology Factor

Although almost all of the linguistic distinctions I have been providing are being overlooked, misunderstood, criticized or altogether ignored, there is still one important factor that, because of its pervasive impact, is the most important of all.

It is ubiquitous with every electronic medium, and it changes the impact of every utterance heard on the radio. It has influenced the understanding of every listener’s experience ever since Marconi first uttered the words, “And now, ladies and gentlemen, Much More Music!”

It has twisted the approach of every print writer that transitioned to radio and every radio speaker that thought they were communicating to a single listener – as if that listener was being fantasized as being in the same room and sitting directly across from them.

I have mentioned this phenomenon in the past and I am obliged to bring it to a reader’s attention at every available opportunity and with all the stridency I can muster.

Now, there is nothing sinister about the following. It’s just that the factor never comes up in conversations among broadcasters. Chances are strong that they are hardly even aware of it – not at all. Chances are just as strong that, were they cognizant of the matter, there would be hardly any reason to give it any consideration, particularly since it is influencing every electronic medium.

Further, so pervasive is this factor that that those who would recognizes it would consider it as normal. And that it is. But, what it is not – is natural! This phenomenon wasn’t even in play before radio waves were discovered and were developed into the shoddy mass communication industry with which we have stultified ourselves.

So, here it is: Every electronic medium, and that includes radio, accesses viewers and listeners primarily through the capacities of their sub-dominant hemispheres – sometimes referred to as “right brain”.

The right brain is mainly engaged in spatial abilities, face recognition, visual imagery, music and the generation of emotions. The dominant hemisphere (the left brain) has more affinities for calculations, logical and rational abilities and general comprehensions.

So, what do we do in radio? We load up with content – prices, products, benefits and appeals to reason and logic – the exact elements that are not getting through to audiences because of the “right brain” accessing. We blow it all by pretending to be newspaper-of-the-air. This, while the reading of a hard-copy newspaper is a dominant (left brain) process.

The irony does indeed lie in that print is accessed by the dominant hemisphere - a left brain reader behaviour. A further irony is in that newspapers that are supplying content online have jumped into an intolerable dilemma in that they are transmitting dominant hemisphere content through a sub-dominant hemisphere medium. This one. All of us who write content materials for online consumption suffer the same maladies.

Big League advertising agencies figured this all out decades ago. Is it any wonder that the most efficient and powerful ads forego the content portions of an advertiser’s messages? Instead, they load up on emotion-producing creative – at least as much as any given advertiser will allow. Many of the advertisers are still solidly stuck in some very old paradigms.

A slight digression: Over the years of my radio career, I have been less impressed by the creative that can be cobbled together, and more impressed by those advertisers who were offered some form of outlandish creative, and said, “Yes!”

Indeed, some media agencies have crawled out of the primordial sludge of our collective histories and gone on to greater glories by learning how to influence and yes, manipulate the minds of viewers and listeners.

I do have a theory about all this hub-bub: Within the time frame of our millions of years of evolution, we have only had a hundred years or so to process and/or assimilate the consequences of being exposed to such electronic messaging. We have been understandably slow on the uptake, and it is unlikely we will be overcoming, assimilating or generalising the processes anytime soon.

I have no problem with any of that as it applies to electronic messaging in that, after all, influencing and manipulating listener experiences is The Job.

The main point, however, is that all the linguistic distinctions I have been making impact more powerfully when delivered to the sub-dominant hemisphere – radio’s hemisphere.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
Advanced Member
Posts: 1589
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:25 am

Function At The Conjunction

While most of radio’s talent-base, both “live” and V/T’ed, has been suppressed and relegated to delivering severely limited pap and innocuous gibberish, the materials I have been promoting can still be powerful in their presentations and, most certainly, influential in the provision of commercial copy.

Those readers that have been following along, particularly over the last couple of months can legitimately wonder if these strategies and methodologies, not only work, but can be applied in their day-to-day radio experiences. Of course they can and they have done in the past.

I am going to provide another example of linguistic trickery that can be applied in any communicative circumstance that will take the attention of any listener from a place where they were before the utterance is provided directly to the attention to the content that is presented by the speaker.

This may, at first, seem to be a totally irrelevant piece of business, but the impact of this addition is actually quite extraordinary. Not only that, but it breaks a rule of grammar.

Grade Six Grammar class demonstrated that it is wrong, wrong and wrong to begin a sentence with a conjunction. The conjunctions are: And, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet.

The purpose of a conjunction is to connect clauses or sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause.

For our purposes, the spiffiest conjunction of all is “and”. This one is, indeed, a beaut. It is so commonplace that it scurries within and around other commentary without concern or notice, neither on the part of speakers or listeners. It even masquerades as a completely different conjunction. For example: “Yes, but” is actually understood as “No, and”. (And that one is worthy of another think or two.)

Now, I understand that fanatical grammarians would take the next point and thrash it, or the speaker, to tatters. However, here is what happens: When a speaker on the radio begins their first sentence with an “And”, the listener transitions from the thoughts they were having before the utterance and carries into a consideration of the speaker’s communication – instantly and gracefully.

All this happens because the listener’s previous thoughts are ratified, and the presenter’s commentary is tied together and led forward when the “And” is introduced at the beginning. It generates a process that is slicker than goose poop.

Meanwhile, I will often drop this little nugget on the street, as well. When I am approaching a clerk at the confectionery or grocery store, the first thing out of my mouth is “And……..” The clerk moves seamlessly and gracefully from what they were concentrating on – to my request or salutation. It’s a wonderful thing to observe.

I’m making of this a somewhat shorter blog. And I would like the function of this conjunction to be considered seriously, and get stuck right in there.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
Advanced Member
Posts: 1589
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm


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